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AWADmail Issue 676A Weekly Compendium of Feedback on the Words in A.Word.A.Day and Tidbits about Words and Language
From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
From: Sam Long (gunputty comcast.net)
I suppose in a world made of antimatter, they have macassars on the backs of their chairs.
Sam Long, Springfield, Illinois
From: Joseph M. McClain (jmmccl wm.edu)
A.Word.A.Day featured my favorite word today. Antimacassar conveys such a powerful image. It sounds as if antimacassar should be the antidote to a particularly noxious poison. Or maybe Antimacassar is a super-villain. The foil of Macassar, of course. What a wonderful word. I try to use it as often as I can. “Well, put a towel here on the couch until your hair dries; it will serve as an antimacassar.”
Joseph M. McClain, Williamsburg, Virginia
From: Verla Schmidt (verlaschmidt comcast.net)
How this takes me back, since I am 90, that is a long way. In my childhood no self-respecting sofa or divan would be without its hand-crocheted antimacassars! Thanks for the memories.
Verla Schmidt, Baltimore, Maryland
From: Lloyd Thomas (via online comments)
Byron’s couplet about Donna Inez (in Don Juan) is the best:
“In virtues nothing earthly could surpass her / Save thine ‘incomparable oil’, Macassar!"
From: Creede Lambard (creede gmail.com)
Ah, memories. Today’s word caught my eye because of a slim volume that hung around our house when I was young called, And So’s Your Antimacassar, which was full of Victorian-era pictures of the lace furniture protectors. The five-syllable word in the title caught my preschool self’s attention much more than the pictures did.
Creede Lambard, Shoreline, Washington
From: Tracy Johnston (trackyj att.net)
I have an e-book copy of the 1887 White House Cookbook. Under the chapter of toilet items there is a recipe for “Macassar Oil for the Hair”.
Tracy Johnston, San Marcos, California
From: John A. Laswick (johnalene comcast.net)
This delightful poem includes the antithesis of antimacassar: The Perils of Modern Living -- Harold P. Furth.
John A. Laswick, Springfield, Illinois
From: Stanley W. Brown (stanley.w.brown dartmouth.edu)
When I was a teenager back in the late ’50s I filled out a newspaper word quiz to determine how old I was. I supplied the word antimacassar. It turned out no other word (e.g., doily) would do. The results concluded I was about 40.
Stan Brown, West Lebanon, New Hampshire
From: Romaine Scott (RomaineS haltonhills.ca)
As I listened to the pronunciation of antimacassar I realized that this was a common word from my childhood in Jamaica but this is the first time I have actually seen the written word. As a child, I helped my mother create the designs on an antimacassar board that was made by joining pieces of wood into a rectangle or square. I remember that it had nails strategically placed on the board. We used soft-coloured wool which was wrapped around the nails to form patterns and then we would remove the wool and cut in specific places to create beautiful designs. Antimacassars on chairs and sofas were an affordable way to add colour and creativity to the room. Creating the antimacassars was a lot of fun and really brought back fond memories of my childhood.
Romaine Scott, Halton Hills, Canada
From: Paul Schierenbeck (paulschierenbeck gmail.com)
When I moved from Oshkosh, WI, to New England many years ago, I was amused to hear people use the term “East Oshkosh” to indicate a “small, unimportant town”. I would object because Oshkosh is actually a notable city, but more than once the response was, “I never knew it was a real place!”
Paul Schierenbeck, Cambridge, Massachusetts
From: Andrew Pressburger (andpress sympatico.ca)
Italian opera wouldn’t be what it is without its array of chattering quacks. From Dulcamara in Donizetti’s melodramma giocoso to Figaro in Donizetti’s opera buffa, they sell cheap wine posing as a love potion or facilitate assignations while shaving beards; not to mention the real buffoon, Pagliaccio himself, who must laugh, though his heart is about to break.
As for space travel, former Harvard faculty member Professor Lehrer puts it in perspective with his not entirely congenial suggestion that rocket science is apolitical, so long as you can count down in a variety of languages -- “says Wernher von Braun”. (video, 2 min.)
Andrew Pressburger, Toronto, Canada
From: Tali Avishay (tal_miqa zahav.net.il)
I live in Jerusalem. In addition to the Jerusalem Syndrome (which typically has a few cases a year, and is usually cured by leaving Jerusalem, or at most a short stay in a psychiatric facility), we also used to have “The Crazy people of Jerusalem” -- four or five people, weird-acting but harmless, that you typically met on their “hunting grounds” -- for some it was buses, for others certain areas in town. They would buttonhole you and bend your ear with their particular interest. I don’t know whether it is the social and religious complexity of the city or something in the air, or energy waves.
Tali Avishay, Jerusalem, Israel
From: David Gawarecki (dgawarecki aol.com)
Technically, Jerusalem is an international city under military occupation by Israel. Saying ‘Jerusalem, Israel’ is sort of the equivalent of saying “Warsaw, Germany” during 1939.
David Gawarecki, New Haven, Connecticut
From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Mum was so deeply enthralled
-Bob Thompson, New Plymouth, New Zealand (bobtee xtra.co.nz)
A donut shop owner in Podunk
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)
The charlatan hailed from Cerretto
-Laurence McGilvery, La Jolla, California (laurence mcgilvery.com)
In the Bible a gesture of Daniel’s
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)
At the Dome of the Rock, far from home,
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)
From: Steve Benko (stevebenko1 gmail.com)
This week’s theme calls to mind a word game invented and played by some AWAD’er friends and me until we had circled the world to exhaustion. We would think of “Geo Swifties,” a variation of Tom Swifties where a real place name is substituted for the adverb. We came up with close to a thousand. Examples:
“I may be a goose, dear, but I’m your goose,” said the woman from Uganda.
“Ms. Palin fancies herself leading a sort of new Roman Empire,” commented the man from Saratoga.
“It’s a cousin of the troll,” said the man from Nome.
“Every time I put in a dollar, I get back two!” said the man from Dublin.
“What about my sister’s daughter?” asked the woman from Nice.
“You have such beautiful handwriting,” said the man from Phnom Penh.
“I can’t make ends meet as a vocalist,” said the woman from Singapore.
“I thrive on pressure,” said the man from Taipei.
Steve Benko, New York, New York
From: Phil Graham (pgraham1946 cox.net)
If I don’t find her soon, my antimacassar fate to the wind.
The basketball coach said, “That was a podunk if ever I saw one.”
“I’ll pretend to be Charlatan no one will notice,” said the male cross-dresser.
“If you continue to ‘spaniel need gastric bypass surgery.”
The best place for Muslim prayer in Jerusalem Syndrome of the Rock.
Phil Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma
A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:Syllables govern the world. -John Selden, historian and politician (1584-1654)